Budd-e Blind-assistive Autonomous Drive Device

BUDD-e

Blind-assistive aUtonomous Droid Device

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PROJECT

Goals

The BUDD-e project involves a multidisciplinary research team (with expertises, e.g., in ICT, Robotics, and Architectural Design) to pursue a twofold ojective:

  • design and realize a first prototype of the innovative autonomous robotic guide BUDD-e for blind and visually impaired persons, endowed with an innovative human-robot interface;
  • design accessible and inclusive public places and indoor environments where BUDD-e can take the role of a guide for BVI persons and permit the fruition of the offered services.

The application scenarios include public spaces where the users will be able to reserve BUDD-e and use as an autonomous guide, e.g., hospitals, sport centers, shopping centers, parks, cultural centers.

Experimental validation tests are currently conducted in healthcare facilities (ASST Grande Ospedale Metropolitano Niguarda) and in sport centers (Centro Sportivo Giuriati, Milano).

Motivation

COVID-19 pandemics and related politics have strongly impacted on people’s life and, even more dramatically, that of vulnerable groups, e.g., people with visual impairment. The possibility to cultivate healthy relationships, take part to social events and activities, and to frequent public spaces has been restricted. Even everyday activities (e.g., use public services, shopping, practice sports) have been severely limited in the past 18 months.

According to the World Health Organization, BVI persons have particularly suffered from the COVID19 emergency and are still dramatically affected by the containment measures, being also particularly prone to the contagion risk. This is due to the fact that BVI need tactile contact with the environment and a guide for moving and orienteering.

People with visual impairment are 4% of the planet population (about 253 Millions). In Italy, they are just under 2 Millions among which 219,174 are absolutely blind (0.3% of the population), while 1,383,922 (2.3%) have a visual residue. Between 2010 and 2030 an increase of people with visual disabilities is expected by about 25% due to the population aging.

This large vulnerable group of persons has compelling and urgent needs to recover from the emergency social situation derived from the COVID-19 pandemics and to mitigate for the inequalities which have been exacerbated by it. This can be fostered by assistive technologies and inclusive environments.

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OBJECTIVES

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USER-CENTERED DESIGN

We have conducted a context analysis to highlight the desired features of the autonomous guide and the opportunities of improvement of spaces in terms of accessibiity.  In particular, focus groups have been organized and questionnaires have been developed to analyze the needs of users and of the spaces. A final report (in Italian) is available here: “Questionari e Focus Group_Report“.

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REALIZATION

BUDD-e is composed of:
– The autonomous vehicle YAPE, endowed with LIDAR sensors, cameras, and IMUs for autonomous driving and interaction with a highly populated and dynamic environment.
– A novel “smart tether system” for managing the human-robot interaction. It is endowed with a tether for connecting the robot and the users.

APPLICATION SCENARIOS

Analysis and design of accessible spaces is also a goal of BUDD-e. This goal will be achievedthrough the application of inclusive and user-centred architectural concepts that will allow to:
– Characterize the needs of orientation and signage;
– Define the optimal spatial and functional features;
– Innovate the fluxes and constraints with respect to the accessibility and usability of the spaces
The results will lead to an improved user experience in hospitals, sport centers, showpping centers, etc.

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NEWS

  • The paperShaping accessible public spaces for visually impaired people. The BUDD-e research experience“, by A. Rebecchi, M. Farina, G. Andreoni, L. Bascetta, S. Capolongo, M. Corno, A. Di Francesco, M. Galli, M. Gola, P. Perego, and E. Lettieri has been accepted for publication in Journal of Technology for Architecture and Environment (TECHNE).
  • We have submitted the social patent “METODO E SISTEMA DI GUIDA COMPRENDENTE UN CAVO DI TRAZIONE PER UTENTI CON DISABILITÀ VISIVE E ASSIEME ROBOTICO COMPRENDENTE DETTO SISTEMA” (n. 102022000025638, on 14/12/2022).
  • On 19/05/2023 we took part to Accessibility Days presenting a session entitled “Innovare l’accessibilità di ciechi/ipovedenti: un droide autonomo per orientarsi e correre“.
  • The following MsC Theses are contributing to the development of our project:
    • “Design, realization, and control of a smart tether system for a robotic guide for blind and visually impaired users” by Panita Rattamasanaprapai, discussed on 22/07/2022
    • “Development, control, and validation of a guide robot for blind and partially sighted users” by Paolo Marson, discussed on 20/12/2022.
    • “Development of a distance controller for a robotic guide for blind and visually impaired users and customization for wayfinding in healthcare facilities” by Eleonora Tagarelli, discussed on 05/10/2023. The thesis has been granted the Premio di Laurea Claudio Maffezzoni, Year 2023.
    • “Advancing Impact Assessment in Health Care: a Generalized Social Return On Investment Framework and its application on a blind-assistive autonomous robot ” di Michela Misley ed Emma Vacchelli, discussed in 2023.
    • “Towards the development of an autonomous guide for blind and visually impaired persons for sport activities” (provvisory title), Virginia di Mauro and Manuel Nava, in preparation.
  • On 27/06/2023 BUDD-e’s capabilities and functionalities have been successfully tested at l’ASST Grande Ospedale Metropolitano Niguarda thanks to the participation of volunteers of Fondazione Istituto dei Ciechi di Milano, Real Eyes Sport, Unione Italiana dei Ciechi e degli Ipovedenti.
  • The paperDesign, realization, control, and validation of a smart tether system for a robotic guide for blind and visually impaired users”, by M. Farina, P. Rattamasanaprapai, P. Marson, F. Camuncoli, M. Galli has been presented at IFAC World Congress 2023, July 9-14, Yokohama, Japan.
  • On 20-22 October we have presented our project at Maker Faire in Rome, Italy.
  • On 22nd October we have delivered a seminar entitled “Development, control, and validation of a guide robot for blind and partially sighted users” at  Workshop on Applications and Challenges for Assistive Robotics at 5th Italian Conference on Robotics and Intelligent Machines (I-RIM) – Fiera di Roma.
  • In the framework of the initiative “Innovazione in sanità digitale”, by Agenas in collaboration with Sics srl, the ASST Grande Ospedale Metropolitano Niguarda and Politecnico di Milano have been conferred, on 23rd November 2023, the prize “Innovatività del progetto in relazione all’uso dell’ICT – concretezza – sostenibilità e replicabilità” for “Progetto Budd-e: un robot al servizio di chi non vede”. See video here. In this framework, we have published the paper “Sperimentazione di BUDD-e, un robot al servizio di ciechi e ipovedenti”, by Marcello Farina, Emanuele Lettieri, Guido Meregalli, nel “Quaderno di Monitor” di Marzo 2024, supplemento della rivista semestrale Monitor, AGENAS. 
  • Our project was finalist of the prize “Make to Care” 2023, conferred by Sanofi.
  • Meet us, on 24th May 2024 at the PolimiRun village in Piazza Leonardo da Vinci, Milan.
  • Meet us, on 25th May 2024, at Polimi Open Campus (10:00-16:00).
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TOLD ABOUT US

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TEAM

Dipartimento di Architettura, Ingegneria delle costruzioni e ambiente costruito
A. Rebecchi

Department of Architecture, Built environment and Construction Engineering

Dipartimento di Design
P. Perego​

Department of Design

Referente scientifico. Sezione di Automatica, Dipartimento di Elettronica, Informazione e Bioingegneria.
M. Farina

Scientific coordinator

Department of Electronics, Information, and Bioengineering

Project manager. Dipartimento di Ingegneria Gestionale
E. Lettieri

Project manager

School of Management

Foto Sironi
R. Sironi

Adjunct Professor

Foto Gheduzzi
E. Gheduzzi

Assistant Professor

Foto Mozzarelli
L. Mozzarelli

PhD student

Federica
F. Camuncoli

PhD student

foto Celi2
L. Celi

Research Assistant

Foto - Dolcini
M. Dolcini

Research Assistant

Foto Gola
M. Gola

Assistant Professor

Sezione di Automatica, Dipartimento di Elettronica, Informazione e Bioingegneria
L. Bascetta

Department of Electronics, Information, and Bioengineering

Sezione di Automatica, Dipartimento di Elettronica, Informazione e Bioingegneria
M. Corno

Department of Electronics, Information, and Bioengineering

Sezione di Bioingegneria, Dipartimento di Elettronica, Informazione e Bioingegneria
M. Galli

Department of Electronics, Information, and Bioengineering

 

Dipartimento di Design
G. Andreoni

Department of Design

Foto Rattamasanaprapai
P. Rattamasanaprapai

Research Assistant

Foto - Cattaneo
L. Cattaneo

Research Assistant

Foto - Filippi
T. Filippi

Research Assistant

Foto DiFrancesco
A. Di Francesco

Research Assistant

Foto Terraroli
M. Terraroli

Research Assistant

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M. Scagnoli

Research Assistant

Foto - Stevanoni
G. Stevanoni

Research Assistant

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PARTNER

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CONTACTS